Rising up from the desert soil and hidden in the canyon walls of the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
in southwest Colorado are the remnants of the Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) people: cliff dwellings, villages, great kivas, shrines, petroglyphs and other ancient artifacts. With over 6,000 recorded archaeological sites and up to 100 per square mile in some places, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is the most archeologically dense area in the United States.
Expanding the Monument
Since Canyons of the Ancients National Monument was established in 2000, The Conservation Fund has been at the forefront of conserving the land which contained the monument’s unique archaeological sites. Over the years, we’ve helped the monument protect more than 8,000 acres within its boundaries, including both the largest and the most critical private inholdings; Jackson’s Castle (first photographed by William Henry Jackson in 1874) and the Skywatcher Site, a 1,000-year old Ancestral Puebloan solstice marker. In 2012, The Conservation Fund acquired two parcels totaling 1,240 acres along Yellow Jacket Creek. The Bureau of Land Management will eventually own the land and manage it as a part of the monument. And most recently, in 2014, The Conservation Fund helped add 1,560 acres to the Monument containing 4.5 miles of Yellow Jacket Creek, a rare perennial stream.
Why This Project Matters
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument offers unparalleled opportunities to observe, preserve, study and interpret the cultures of the American Southwest spanning thousands of years. The Monument is important to Ancestral Puebloan and other Native American cultures who maintain close ties to the sites occupied by their ancestors. The Monument’s dry uplands and riparian areas also provide habitat for a variety of wildlife species, including the Southwestern Willow flycatcher, Mesa Verde nightsnake, long-nosed leopard lizard, twin-spotted spiny lizard, mountain lion, peregrine falcon, golden eagle and Gambel’s quail.
“These land purchases are a very worthwhile and much needed investment. The properties being brought into public ownership are remarkable for their extraordinary natural, scenic, recreational, cultural, and historical value. Their acquisition will benefit the American people now and in the future.”
—Former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar